Former President of the United States Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges of potential mishandling of classified documents levied by the Department of Justice. The first former U.S. President to have faced federal charges was arraigned in Miami federal courthouse on June 13 for 37 counts, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information. Hours after pleading not guilty to criminal felony counts, Donald Trump addressed his supporters in Bedminster, New Jersey calling the charges on himself ‘fake and fabricated’ and criticizing U.S. President Joe Biden for ”having his top political opponent arrested on charges of which he and numerous other presidents would be guilty, right in the middle of a presidential election in which he’s losing very badly.”
Dismissing the charges against him, Trump went on to say, “Today we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country. A very sad thing to watch. This day will go down in infamy.” In his first public remarks after the arraignment, Trump urged prosecutors to drop the charges against him and insisted on his innocence by saying, “I’m not the one who thinks I’m above the law. I’m the one who followed the law.” Justifying his actions and previewing a possible legal defense, Trump said he had a right to go through boxes and separate personal records from government documents. He went on to label the indictment as ‘election interference’ and a ‘rig to steal the presidential election.’
Political experts have raised concern over Trump burgeoning for political benefits despite the seriousness of the charges against him and the legal and political threats. On June 14, Fulton County Georgia Sheriff Pat Labat said that his office had sent teams to the federal courthouse in Miami and New York City to prepare the case of the indictment. According to the latest update, the case will move into the courtroom of District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge who is infamous for her controversial judgements.
Attorneys Todd Blanche and Chris Kise accompanied Donald Trump during his arraignment in the Miami courtroom and pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges. It is worth remembering that his defense team is still evolving after Trusty and John Rowley resigned on June 9 in the wake of his indictment. According to CNN, Trump has also sought to add a Florida-based criminal defense lawyer to his team. Todd Blanche has previously represented notable figures associated with Trump in various legal cases in the years that followed. According to The Washington Post, Blanche was hired after a series of defense attorneys said no to becoming a part of Trump’s team. He left New York City’s oldest law firm Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft to join Trump’s legal team. He said in a statement, “I have been asked to represent Trump in the recently charged DA case, and after much thought/consideration, I have decided it is the best thing for me to do and an opportunity I should not pass up.”
Despite the line of felony charges against the former U.S. President, he will still be running for President while indicted or convicted. Term limits, impeachment, and the disqualification clause are the only constitutional restrictions that can stop a candidate from running for Presidency. Regardless of what happens next with the case against Trump, the federal charges are a historic moment, one that is sure to have a significant impact on the outcome of the 2024 GOP primary.